World

Epstein ‘killed himself to shield fortune’

By AAP Newswire

Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself to protect his $US577 million ($A877 million) estate from victims of his sadistic sex trafficking operation, a lawyer has argued in new legal papers

Brad Edwards, who represents an Epstein victim using the pseudonym Katlyn Doe, examined the timeline of Epstein's suicide in a memo filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

Edwards wrote that he should be allowed to probe the reasons for Epstein's suicide because he believed the multimillionaire pervert knew it would be difficult for victims to bring punitive damages claims once he was dead.

"In this situation where he was calculatedly attempting to shield his wealth from victims, he decided the best way to do so was to take his own life," Edwards wrote.

"Reasonable grounds exist for concluding that Epstein's suicide in his Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) jail cell was likely motivated by his decision to escape the financial punitive consequences of his sex trafficking crimes and torts."

The legal questions surrounding a wealthy, serial pedophile using suicide to avoid legal claims had little precedent "presumably because it is an extremely rare circumstance," according to Edwards.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at MCC on August 10 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking of underage girls.

A key moment in the hedge funder's fatal decision came on July 22 when he was served behind bars with a lawsuit filed by Jennifer Araoz seeking punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant, Edwards argues.

The next day, Epstein attempted to hang himself while sharing a cell with accused quadruple murderer Nick Tartaglione.

The former Briarcliff Manor cop alerted MCC staff and Epstein survived. Epstein signed his will on August 8, just two days before he was found dead in his cell.

"The timing of the execution of his will with his suicide demonstrates the connection between the two - he was thoughtfully planning how to best protect his assets for his desired beneficiaries from his many known victims/creditors," Edwards wrote.

Judge Kevin Castel will decide whether to allow Edwards to delve into the reasons for Epstein's suicide.

The lawyer hopes to answer questions surrounding the reasons Epstein signed the will, plans for beneficiaries and his knowledge of how many victims he expected to bring claims.

Lawyers for Epstein's estate argue that all of the punitive damages claims, including ones against corporations controlled by him, should be dismissed.